Kettering councillors step in to save under threat grit bin

Cllr Keli Watts and Cllr Mick Scrimshaw next to the saved grit bin.
Cllr Keli Watts and Cllr Mick Scrimshaw next to the saved grit bin.

A grit bin that was under threat as part of Northamptonshire County Council’s plan to reduce its winter service has been saved thanks to the efforts of two Kettering councillors.

The grit bin in Green Lane, Kettering was one of the 500 on the list that will no longer be refilled across the Northamptonshire as part of the authority’s effort to save £475,000 from its budget this financial year.

But after discussions with both the county and the borough authorities, labour councillors Keli Watts and Mick Scrimshaw, who represent the William Knibb ward, will pay for the cost of filling the bin with salt from their ward initiative funds.

The bin was only installed three years ago when Cllr Scrimshaw used some of his empowering councillor funds from Northamptonshire County Council to pay for it.

He said: “I originally campaigned for the grit bin following concerns from residents after a series of accidents, three of which, that I know about, resulted in ambulances being called because the area has an old Victorian factory building whose shadow stops the sun from melting ice on the road and footpath. At the time I was disgusted that NCC refused to provide a bin themselves in those circumstances.”

Kettering council has taken over the ownership of the bin and will fill it and the councillors will cover the cost.

Cllr Scrimshaw said: “The whole process seems to have been difficult. The effort that has gone into this one grit bin is tremendous.”

Beddows Motor Company is on Green Lane and owner Mark Beddows said he has seen numerous incidents in the 40 plus years that he has been trading from the area. A few years ago he had helped provide first aid to a person in their 60s who had slipped on the ice and split their head open. In icy conditions he uses the salt from the bin to treat the pavement in the area to make it safe.

He said: “Top marks to the councillor for their campaign to keep the bin. It would have been wrong if it had gone. I will be out there in my winter woollies this year as it only takes half an hour of my time.”

The reduction of the winter service has been one of the more unpopular of a series of service reductions outlined by the council to solve its financial problems. The authority had to save £65m from its usual spend this financial year and has a team of senior officers, the conservative cabinet and two commissioners looking at every option of how to do this and still offer the services it has to by law.

The winter service reduction move will see 400km less of the Northamptonshire road network gritted this year and 500 of the 1973 existing salt bins no longer filled by KierWSP who have the highways contract.

Parish and borough councils have been offered the option of taking over the bins in their area that will no longer be filled under the KierWSP contract.